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public pension benefits undergo the biggest rollback in state history while the governor continues to make his case for the november tax measure. get ready to pay more when you shop online. the amazon sales tax is about to kick in. and a conversation with san francisco mayor ed lee about his greatest challenge and goals for the city. plus -- >> i'm scott shafer. coming up a trip to fremont's little kabul, cultural haven to a growing number of musicians and artists seeking refuge from war-torn afghanistan. and artists seeking refuge from war-torn afghanistan. >> coming up next.
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captioning by vitac, underwritten by fireman's fund >> belva: good evening. i'm belva davis. welcome to this week in northern california. joining me on the news panel are michelle quinn, silicon valley reporter for politico and josh richman, political reporter for bay area news group. josh, we have been away from state politics for the last couple of weeks. now the governor is back at his desk with his pen signing bills. what are some of the things that have been signed? >> well, he has a tremendous
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number of bills to sign or veto before the end of the month. but the big news this week was clearly on wednesday in los angeles his signing of his pension, public pension reform bill. this is something that a lot of californians think is a longtime coming. probably just as many californians think is still not fully addressed. even the governor should tell us he does not believe this solves all of our unfunded liabilities going forward but it was the best deal he could get right now and he did not want to let the perfect be the enemy of good. he basically said he had one side that doesn't know how to say no and another side that doesn't know how to say yes. he's in between trying -- >> he plays the cards. >> he plays the cards he's dealt. a great interview. this pension bill basically requires public employees hire
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starting next year will have to work longer before they can retire with full benefits. caps benefits for the highest earners at $3200 in annual payout. it requires employees eventually pay about half -- at least half of the contribution toward their retirement plan. local government labor unions will have a five-year window to negotiate that through collective bargaining. then if no deal is reached, a city or school district could force them to pay their half of the contribution, 8% of pay for civil workers, 11 or 12 for public safety workers. this is something the unions are not at all happy about. they feel like public workers are being taken for a ride here and they are being denied benefits that they have bargained hard to get. conservatives and even some more moderate californians say this doesn't go nearly far enough in
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that it does not address -- it doesn't make enough of a dent in the shout falls we face over time of the governor says he's going to be looking at pension reform again next year after he's done with this ballot measure. >> wasn't their strong democratic support in the legislature. >> enough to get it passed a lot of hard lobbying by the public workers union that opposed this and still made it. >> this was the goal for decades. >> i think everybody recognized, and the governor more than anybody, this is something that had to happen this year if he has any hope of convincing voters to pass proposition 30 on the november ballot, which is proposed income tax increase for the top 3% of california earners and a small sales tax increase. you know, this ballot measure, he came in, for which he's stumping right now, is
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imperative as far as he's concerned for school funding. there will be huge, $6 billion intriguer cuts automatically already scheduled if this tax measure doesn't pass. i think he felt, and other people felt, he couldn't go to the public asking for this tax increase if there weren't some effort made and some success had in addressing public pension issues. >> you think it helped him with democrats in assembly and senate? >> i think they realized the political need to cut some sort of deal on pensions now. we asked him very specifically, what else do you want to do on pensions next year in what is it that you did not get now that you want to get then. he in his extremely colorful way basically said that he said you want me to identify the hogs i'm going to take to slaughter? no thank you. he wants to keep his coalition together through november for prop 30 before he strots out
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other changes. >> you said something about his income tax, that he never really intended there to be an income tax. >> that's right. >> belva: in addition to that in wisconsin where we've heard more about the pension fight than any place else, a court today overturned the -- i guess the legislation that governor walker put forward. >> that's absolutely right. a county judge in wisconsin shot down most of the law that had effectively ended collective bargaining entirely for a lot of public workers in wisconsin. the judge found that it violated rights of free speech and association, equal protection clause by denying them things that nonunion employees were not being denied. the governor is going to appeal that, called the judge a liberal activist, the union is declaring victory. this was the issue over which the governor had survived a recall vote in june. it sort of made him a rock star in conservative circles all across the country.
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it will be interesting how the appeals case goes. >> one of them a tunnel under the delta, the other one was high-speed rail, which he said he backs even after some doubts about it. he had a lot of difficult decision toss make. >> he had a lot of difficult decision toss make. >> not a difficult decision anymore for amazon because is now faced with the necessity of charging sales tax here in california. tell us about the fight, michelle. >> sure. this has been something that the california legislature has wanted since maybe 1992, i think or maybe even later. so 1992 there was a supreme court case and california, i guess, started to agitate for online retailers to collect sales tax. already we all owe -- it's called use tax.
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when we buy amazon, anywhere online, we are posed to pay the state but most people don't. so what many states are trying to do, there is a federal bill as well, is to try to get their retail at the point of sale to collect. that's what's going to happen tomorrow in california, you will go to amazon. if you're standing in california or sitting in california and you're going to have the product shipped to california, there will be a sales tax depending on where you are, in alameda county, san francisco county different sales tax. this is something online retailers and other groups have fought over the years. first the bill vetoed by governor davis. another bill vetoed by governor schwarzenegger. the argument was the internet was too new. why do we hobble it with a tax or tax collection. nobody is making that argument anymore. it's not -- it's here to stay. >> this is a bill by east lake assemble woman nancy skinner. she says it's going to bring in
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lots of money. >> there's a lot of debate about the amount of money. the board will equalization says $300 million chopped up into pieces, county, state, municipalities. it's hard to know how that's going to be and how it matters to the state with an ongoing budget crisis as far as i can tell. then there's a federal effort that's happening in washington. there's a federal bill that wouldn't require physical presence. so you would just buy something. even if the merchant doesn't have physical presence in the state, a state could compel that merchant to collect sales tax. >> we're not the only state with which amazon cut a deal and law put into effect. texas, nevada. >> pennsylvania. there's bout seven states where the collection is happening for a variety of reasons. washington state because amazon is there. there's about another maybe seven -- six more where it's
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been enacted. no, we're not the first. we are, of course, the ninth largest economy in the world. 10% of the u.s. population. it's a huge market. so what happens in california is really important, how it gets implemented is going to be watched in washington. one question i have is does this put more pressure on the congressional leaders or less pressure on them to pass their own kind of national plan. >> once a deal like this is in place, doesn't it enable amazon to put a distribution center in california without worrying about tax implications and offer fast delivery and more competition to brick and mortar businesses. >> part of the deal was two distributions in san bernardino and patterson. some people, critics of amazon said they basically traded the sales tax benefit for the warehouse benefit, the faster delivery, the things you really
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want. they basically made a decision, this is according to some, that we want fast more than we want to not pay that 9%, which by the way you always owed. so i think that that -- you can see them doing that all around the country, putting down roots. so from now on if you're ordering, you'll be paying tacks. i could not decide whether local retail on the ground businesses will benefit from this or not, or not. well, thank you very much. you too, josh, for being with us tonight. san francisco mayor ed lee was elected to office last november after having been appointed interim mayor in january when his predecessor gavin newsom was sworn in as lieutenant governor. a long time city employee and city administer, he's the first asian-american mayor of san francisco. while his style may be less
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flamboyant than some of his predecessors, there has been plenty of excitement during his first year in office. i spoke with mayor lee earlier. welcome mayor ed lee. good to have you on the program. let's start on the high note. okay. if you had the opportunity to name the thing that you are most proud of after becoming the mayor, what would it be? >> i've worked really hard on just trying to create, invest confidence in the city, restore back the economic recovery. it's so important for our cities across the country, including san francisco to work hard at our economics. so when i was interim mayor last year, we did pension reform. that was extremely important. we had to really gain leverage and control around that. i closed a $385 million budget deficit. found ourselves a great police chief. there's this little company called twitter, 450 people at the time that said, hey, if you don't help us out, we're going
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to have to leave the city. my gosh, working with the board of supervisors, that was one of the most marvelous things we've done. guess what happened? over 450 technology companies that felt the confidence in the city, moving in, creating jobs, we're the third lowest unemployment rate in the whole state of california because of technology and all the other wonderful things happening in the public and private sector. >> let's move to the intractable problems, homelessness, housing crisis, affordability of housing for some people. though you've said you've got a handle on the budget, you came from being the city administrator, so at least you know how things work, these problems that are going to be solved in your lifetime, my lifetime? >> i certainly hope so. i think we've got a good record to achieve the foundation to make them more successful. take, for example, housing. yes, everybody is complaining about the affordability or the lack of housing.
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we've got something on the ballot this year, proposition c, housing trust fund, creating an ability to have $50 million a year for the next 30 years that will replace what redevelopment used to do for us in affordable housing. also in concert and full collaboration with the board of supervisors, having first responders and police officers and firefighters be able to partake in that housing trust fund by having a portion of it used for firstime home buyers in their down payment challenges. >> certainly the central subway project is a very controversial one. there's somewhat hard feelings between those in north beach and chinatown. getting to the need for it, first of all, i wish you'd speak to. how do you bring these communities together? >> for me it's been easy. you point to the 30 stockton street bus every single day and every afternoon. it's so filled that people can hardly get on. they have to wait two or three
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buses down the road. what does that say to us getting around the city? the second point i'd want to make for them, where is our new housing residents going to live in the city? hunters point, visitation valley. we have that evidence. it's factual. people are buying and renting housing down there because of the overcrowded conditions that exist in all of our other parts of the city. so how do they get around the city? it's the central subway. it's our system. this extension will allow residents in that area to be able to visit up all the way through chinatown. >> how are you going to handle proposition f that will go through voters that will eventually require tearing down or disengaging the water project. >> that's right. the first thing we do, belva, for this proposition f is we explain to the public what it really does. it will ask us to explain how we
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drain it. as ridiculous as it sounds, that's the truth. not a good proposition, a good use of money, not a good use of the san francisco utilities commission. we've been spending billions of rate pair dollars to build up that system, to make sure water is safe, delivered well. not just to san francisco but the whole bay area counties that depend on that water. it's a trojan horse for those who proposed this. we're exposing it and we believe we'll win this argument not only with just a small margin. once we get the story down it will drain it, i think the public will agree it's not a good proposition. >> we are sitting in neighborhoods. in one neighborhood, the castro district, there's this problem of men who walk around in daylight hours naked. as a mayor, is that something -- there's nothing that you could do about it or do you consider that even a problem? >> well, obviously if that
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affects kids that are going to the school or times of the day where the exposure isn't appropriate, we should do something about that. that's not acceptable. at the same time i've got to balance that off with people's first amendment rights. this is a town where that's extremely valued. there are conditions and terms in which that could be permed yet unpermitted when kids are exposed. we're going to be dealing with that. >> what are you going to do about ross. >> the charter required the mayor to take a look at all the facts. what the elected sheriff pled to in court, he did plead to commit violence, domestic violence and pleaded to false imprisonment. i had to make a decision whether that amounted to official misconduct, which i did conclude it did. i believe the office of the sheriff should not tolerate that
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kind of behavior. and therefore made the recommendation he be suspended, and he was. the ethics commission supported my finding in a 4-1 vote. they are about to proceed in making that recommendation to supervisors and they will have 30 days to act on that. >> it was a fast lope through the problems. we thank you, ed lee, for being on the program. >> my pleasure to be on the program, belva, and we thank you for your three decades of good work. this has been a turbulent week, attacks on the consulate in libya and continued protests worldwide providing a stark reminder of relationships between the west and much of the muslim world. among the countries where protests took to the street was afghanistan, which the u.s. invade shortly after 9/11. hundreds of thousands of afghan refugees have fled their war-torn country seeking a new
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life in america. as scott shafer discovered, there is a bay area community that has become a home away from home for a growing number of afghans. >> reporter: thousands of tourists visit the city by the bay each year. for this man, the sights and sounds of san francisco provoke not only a sense of wonder but more than a little culture shock. >> coming from afghanistan to san francisco, what a difference. the colors, people, the way they dress. >> reporter: shakur and his brother are from afghanistan. shakur is a recent transport, fleeing the violence in his home city of kabul, wandering the city finding inspiration for his paintings is a newfound pleasure. >> it's a place to relax and think about art instead of worrying about the war and from
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which angle you'll be shot. most of afghanistan's homes are built from mud. you come here and see the concrete, highrise, i enjoy the colors. when i look back and see what colors using, it's very exciting. >> though they visit san francisco often, like thousands of other refugees, they live far from the hustle and beautiful of city life. northern california is home to the largest population of afghans in the united states. many of them have settled here in fremont. over the past three decades, the area known as little ckabul has become a cultural haven for afghans looking for community and the flavors of home. >> fremont boulevard known as little cab up or centreville, it was an illusion created by
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journalists. there's actually not as many restaurants or community centers as you would see in chinatown, for example. however, it's still a sense of home through afghans. >> she has ease the the transition for several generations of afghan refugees in the bay area. they have come to the united states in waves starting with the 1979 soviet invasion. >> kabul was a very robust city when the first wave of immigrants came to the united states. they used to mention they had a lot of good times going to restaurants and movie theaters. that's what little kabul provides on a small scale to the bay area community. >> there's bakery store, also mosques built here, so people do praying. >> reporter: they share a tiny art a few blocks from the strip.
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the balcony doubles as an art studio. crippled by a bad fall and a leg that never really healed, since age seven shakur has done all his painting on the floor. despite his disability and lack of resources over years he created over 2,000 works of art, portraits and landscapes he used to sell to american servicemen in kabul that reflected every day life in afghanistan. what about this painting here? looks like three people, three kids maybe? >> you notice they are leaving their homes and forced to get out. trying to find a shelter elsewhere. this is exactly what it is. >> the art that shakur produces comes from his heart, from what he's seeing. i remember shakur telling me stories where there was
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literally bombs going off outside. they were sitting in the basement. at the candlelight he would make sure he was doing his art because that would block out everything going on around him. >> reporter: since his escape from the war his palette and subject matter have changed reflecting his environment. >> no matter what wave they came in, they are very hopeful. they tell their stories through a common language and that is art. >> reporter: like shakur, this man left in order to pursue his passion. >> music was banned during the taliban. >> reporter: since he was 10 years old he has played a 2,000-year-old double chambered loot known as the national instrument of afghanistan. >> he's renowned worldwide. he has played in carnegie hall.
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he uses a lot of classical music incorporated with fusion and new music. he also sing with other musicians. she's one of very few women that's able to establish this title. considered a master of music in our community. the fact she was able to overcome the stigma they have, especially for a woman. it's not a career path you want to go down. it's amazing. >> reporter: they are all rehearsing for an upcoming tour along with the other members of voices of afghanistan, they will
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present a wide range of music reflecting the diverse regions of their home lands. >> this song cha cha cha. >> cha cha cha. [ speaking foreign language ] >> i think music is coming from heart and catching another heart. >> i believe strongly from my experience working with the community that the one thing that can bring them back and give them some hope and help them overcome the traumas they have experienced is the connection through the art and culture and the history rich with folklore and fabls and music.
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. >> belva: with that report, that is all for tonight. visit kqed/this week for past episodes and segments. to subscribe to newsletter and podcast and share your thoughts about the show and our stories. i'm belva davis, thank you for watching. good night.
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This Week in Northern California
PBS September 15, 2012 1:00pm-1:30pm PDT

Series/Special. (2012) (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY California 11, Shakur 6, Kabul 5, Chinatown 3, Fremont 3, Washington 3, Wisconsin 3, Belva Davis 2, Scott Shafer 2, Belva 2, Gavin Newsom 1, Josh 1, Patterson 1, Michelle 1, Schwarzenegger 1, Davis 1, Unpermitted 1, Ed Lee 1, Delta 1, Lee 1
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Duration 00:30:00
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 80 (561 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 528
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
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on 9/15/2012